philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Quantum and classical computers handle time differently. What does that mean for AI?

In fact, scientists have proven that time’s arrow – a bedrock concept related to the classical view of time – doesn’t really work on quantum computers. Classical physics suffers from a concept called causal asymmetry. Basically, if you throw a bunch of confetti in the air and take a picture when each piece is at its apex, it’ll be easier for a classical computer to determine what happens next (where the confetti is going) than what happened before (what direction the confetti would travel in going backwards through time).

Quantum computers can perform both calculations with equal ease, thus indicating they do not suffer causal asymmetry. Time’s arrow is only relevant to classical systems – of which the human mind appears to be, though our brains are almost certainly quantum constructs.

But experts such as Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis believe an understanding of time is essential to the future of AI, especially as it relates to “human-level” artificial general intelligence (AGI). The duo penned an op-ed for the New York Times where they stated:

In particular, we need to stop building computer systems that merely get better and better at detecting statistical patterns in data sets — often using an approach known as deep learning — and start building computer systems that from the moment of their assembly innately grasp three basic concepts: time, space and causality.

Quantum physics tells us that, at the very least, our understanding of time is likely different from what might be the ultimate universal reality.

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NYT, Facebook launch multi-year augmented reality reporting project

1600272128478The New York Times and Facebook have struck a multi-year partnership to co-develop augmented reality (AR) filters and effects on Instagram that help users access and contextualize New York Times journalism, executives tell Axios.

Why it matters: It's the first time that The Times has experimented with augmented reality technology at scale and off of its own website and apps. The partnership also represents an evolution in the relationship between publishers and tech companies.

Details: To get the partnership off the ground, The Times has built a dedicated "AR Lab" team within its research and development unit of more than a dozen employees.

  • That team will develop augmented reality filters and effects using a Facebook platform for developers called "Spark AR Studio."
  • Facebook will provide guidance on ways to use Spark, and in turn, The Times will provide feedback to Facebook on developer experience and features.
  • Facebook will be providing financial and technical support for the project, but it will not have any influence on the editorial side. The Times will have full control over the design and content of the effects.
  • The first few filters from the launch series will include visual interactive pieces tied to the centennial of women’s suffrage, coverage of the California wildfires and air quality during the COVID-19 lockdown, as displayed in the picture above.

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Mayflower boarding reconstructed using virtual reality

Virtual-reality-mayflowerA virtual reality reconstruction of the Mayflower has been created to mark the 400th anniversary of the ship sailing the first English Puritans to the “New World”.

The project to recreate the Barbican Harbour area in Plymouth in the 1620s launches online today  at Created over the past six years by the University of Birmingham, it uses virtual reality and augmented reality to enable users to board a small boat at the original site of the Mayflower Steps before taking a short journey out to the ship to experience passengers and crew preparing to set sail.

The Mayflower’s 102 colonist passengers founded the settlement of Plymouth, Massachusetts, in the land mass now known as the United States.

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‘Myst’ in VR: Classic game to get a modern reboot with virtual reality debut on Oculus Quest

Myst_Quest_Screen_03-1260x709The original Myst was the #1 best-selling video game in the world from 1993 to 2002, a “killer app” that contributed to widespread adoption of CD-ROM drives for home computers.

Could a remake have the same effect for virtual reality? That’s a stretch, but the announcement of a new virtual reality edition of Myst is a milestone years in the making for Cyan Worlds, the Spokane, Wash.-based company behind the landmark puzzle game. Remade from the ground up in the Unreal Engine, the new version of Myst will initially be released for the Oculus Quest later this year, with a non-VR PC edition coming at an unspecified later date.

Myst puts the player in the role of an unnamed person who is accidentally transported via a magical book to an isolated, seemingly uninhabited island. With no way back, the player is forced to explore the area and solve a variety of puzzles. In so doing, they discover the history of the island and the people who once lived there, as well as the secrets behind the “linking books” that join the island with a number of other disparate worlds.

Notably, Myst features no depictions of violence, time limits, failure conditions, or verbal storytelling to speak of, all of which was nearly unprecedented in 1993. It’s had a significant influence on video games as a medium, and arguably pop culture in general, to this day.

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Facebook debuts Infinite Office, a virtual reality office space

[PhilNote: Facebook tries to rebrand the inifinte desktop as Infinite Office.]

Today, the company shared early demos of “Infinite Office” a new set of features that will bring solo productivity to the Oculus Quest.

The features, which will begin rolling out this winter will allow users to work across multiple customizable screens built on top of the Oculus Browser. Users will be able to see live feeds from the onboard cameras so that they can integrate the VR world with their own home.

The company announced a partnership with Logitech that will allow certain keyboards to be recognized, tracked and rendered inside the headset so users can easily input text while working inside the Quest.


How XpertVR Is Changing the Face of Traditional Research With Virtual Reality

PhilNote: What XpertVR does is definitely not unique, but the story gives a good description of the service.

Using Virtual Reality for Market Research

XpertVR-TeamOne of the biggest challenges in traditional market research is creating realistic test environments. Due to budget and time constraints, companies often fail to deliver ideal testing scenarios, which leads to less than accurate data.

That’s where virtual reality comes in.

Evan Sitler CEO & Co-founder XpertVR

Evan Sitler, CEO & co-founder of XpertVR

XpertVR uses immersive solutions to simulate stores, retailers, and many other user experiences, without having to build physical assets. From consumer behavior research to product A/B testing, the startup can create a variety of simulations to fit the needs of their clients.

“VR has made the data research traditionally collected much more abundant as well as less cost-prohibitive,” Sitler said in an interview. “Because of this and the far wider range of ideas that can be tested in VR, researchers are starting to focus more on the consumer’s experience.”

Pushing the Limits of Research With Virtual Reality

XpertVR builds custom applications, which are compatible with different VR headsets and software platforms. For example, they made an immersive environment in Unity to test custom furniture models. They allow data collection using eye and hand tracking, audio and video capture, and other VR accessories. Moreover, they can help clients look for the most suitable hardware for any research endeavor.

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We’re closer to holographic meetings than you think

VOX_7_final.0Still, experiencing Spatial on a $400 Oculus Quest headset brought me slightly closer to the concept of hanging out with holographic friends while wearing smart glasses. What’s still missing, aside from the actual glasses, is fast-enough internet connectivity to make this kind of tech work. 5G networks would change that.

 Beheshti, who is also a senior member of IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), explained to me that 5G technology is key for augmented reality technology to take off because it offers high-bandwidth connections with super-low latency.

NSF advances 25 projects to explore bold ideas for transformative research

Previously, NSF invited the scientific community, industry, nonprofits and the public at large to participate in the NSF 2026 Idea Machine, a competition to help set the U.S. agenda for fundamental research in science and engineering.

NSF received 800 ideas from nearly every state, with the potential to address grand challenges in fundamental research or in STEM education. All entries were reviewed by experts and 33 ideas were selected for their timeliness, ambition, potential scientific and societal impacts, and potential for interagency, international and public-private partnerships.

Some of the themes that emerged include:

  • How to design a resilient environment that will adapt to a rapidly changing world
  • How to reduce waste and harness it for energy
  • How to design new materials that mimic properties of living things
  • How to expand artificial intelligence to incorporate empathy
  • How to empower K-12 and other educators to engage all members of society in STEM literacy and to become the problem-solvers of tomorrow

Further information on the NSF 2026 Idea Machine and the list of awards is available at

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Managing AI risks and reducing methane from cows

(USC = University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia)

Professor Paul Salmon was awarded $460,522 over three years to lead the delivery of a framework for the management of safe artificial intelligence (AI) systems and Associate Professor Scott Cummins was awarded $425,766 to determine the key genes in seaweed that help reduce methane emissions by livestock.

Professor Salmon said that while AI offered far-reaching benefits, it also still posed a threat to society if not properly managed.

“It is widely acknowledged that a failure to implement appropriate controls for the next generation of artificial intelligence (AI) could have catastrophic consequences including, in the worst case, the extinction of the human race,” he said.

“Our research aims to forecast the risks associated with Artificial General Intelligence systems and identify the controls require to ensure that risks and existential threats are minimised.

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Nvidia’s acquisition of Arm strengthens its ecosystem, brings economies of scale to the cloud, expansion to the edge

2555435ebb25b4781b28-39429237-first-nvidia-dgx-a100-at-argonne-national-laboratory-image-courtesy-argonne-national-laboratoryNvidia is after a double bottom line in the AI chip market: Better performance and better economics. Arm's acquisition helps with the economies of scale in the data center and expands Nvidia's footprint to the edge.

This is the second high-profile acquisition for Nvidia in 2020, following the acquisition of Mellanox in April. The two are complementary, as they are both fundamental for Nvidia's plan to acquire and maintain a leading role in AI workloads in the data center and beyond.

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